This group is the default community for every Energy Central registered member. We discuss and share a variety of topics related to the global power industry. 


Methane waste: New Mexico’s multi-million dollar opportunity to increase funding and cut pollution

Jim Marston's picture
Vice President, Clean Energy Environmental Defense Fund

I am the head of Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) national Energy Program and the Regional Director of our Texas Office. EDF is a leading environmental nonprofit organization that focuses on...

  • Member since 2017
  • 92 items added with 80,551 views
  • Nov 28, 2017

Authored by 

A new analysis is taking a closer looking at the scope of New Mexico’s methane problem and the financial impact it's having on the state’s taxpayers.

We have known for some time that New Mexico had a problem with methane waste and pollution from the state’s oil and gas industry. A 2015 report from business consulting firm ICF International found that more methane gas was wasted from oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands in New Mexico than any other state. And the infamous hot spot of methane pollution over the state’s San Juan Basin is the highest concentration of this pollution found anywhere in the U.S. But a new report is providing the first-ever comprehensive, statewide view of methane emissions and waste from New Mexico’s oil and gas industry.

This new analysis, which is based on industry-reported inventory data and an extensive review of recent scientific research, estimates that the excessive leaking, venting and flaring of natural gas has resulted in New Mexico’s oil and gas industry emitting 570,000 tons of methane each year.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is emitted with other harmful compounds that can impact public health, but – since methane is also the primary component of natural gas – it’s also a valuable domestic energy resource used to generate about 1/3 of our nation’s electricity.

According to the report, New Mexico’s oil and gas producers are wasting enough natural gas to meet the annual heating and cooking needs of every home in the state. This waste has a direct impact on the local economy. Between $182 and $244 million worth of natural gas is wasted each year, causing taxpayers to lose out on as much as $27 million in tax and royalty revenues annually.

Natural gas that isn’t wasted can be used or sold, and ultimately benefit New Mexico taxpayers. By requiring companies to reduce methane, New Mexico can increase funding for important state needs like education, roads, and bridges, and allow companies to create New Mexico jobs of the future in clean, efficient energy production.

Recent studies have shown that companies in the Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) industry have enjoyed up to 30 percent business growth when states enact regulations to reduce methane.

The good news is some leading producers are acting. XTO, a subsidiary of energy giant ExxonMobil and a large producer in New Mexico’s Permian Basin, announced that it will make efforts to reduce methane waste at  production sites. Meanwhile BP, a substantial natural gas producer in the state’s San Juan Basin, joined an international group of oil and gas producers to also announce efforts to cut methane emissions.

These steps are important, but without actions from state and federal regulators to ensure all New Mexico oil and gas producers are held to the same standard, the problem will continue.

This is why diverse stakeholders from across the state are calling for more oversight of the state’s oil and gas industry in order to protect New Mexico communities from wasteful and polluting practices.

“We have dedicated lawmakers turning over cushions to find funding to improve education for our state’s children, all the while we have significant revenue being lost into the atmosphere,” asserted Bill Jordan, with New Mexico Voices for Children. “To break it down, an additional $27 million in our state’s budget would allow us to increase our Pre-K enrollment by 50 percent. That means an additional 5,000 children could receive vital early childhood education programs. It’s funding that our communities and our youngest children need.”

In recent legislative hearings, EDF has been joined by New Mexico Voices for Children in calling for better efforts to curtail this waste of the state’s natural resources. Methane waste is a huge, two hundred million dollar, piece of low hanging fruit that can increase funding for state needs, create jobs and help clean up the air.

Republished with permission from the Environmental Defense Fund

Jim Marston's picture
Thank Jim for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Scott Brooks's picture
Scott Brooks on Dec 13, 2017


Oil and Gas Production not Causing Methane Increase

A new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finds the recent rise in methane emissions is due to agriculture and natural emissions from wetlands in the world’s tropical regions, not oil and gas development. Global methane levels plateaued from 1999 to 2006, rising from 2007 to present.



After 2000-Era Plateau, Global Methane Levels Hitting New Highs

Author: Rebecca Lindsey, Michon Scott July 11, 2017

The other problems is there is a lot of myth vs facts on drillers, frackers and methane emissions:


Myth vs. Fact on the BLM Methane Venting and Flaring Rule

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »